Aside that, other medical officers who spoke with WESTERN POST expressed the fear that the rescued victims may be re-abducted, saying they have observed that strange and suspicious faces have begun to visit the ward where the victims are being kept perhaps to work on how they would launch an attack on the hospital.
In the last one week, the ancient city of Ibadan, Oyo State capital, has been playing host to the theatre of the absurd. Things have taken a dizzying pace. The focus on the city was not for high-tech politics for which Ibadan is known as the political capital of the South-west, but for the unusual discoveries- mangled, decomposing bodies, human parts and walking corpses that people have been turned into-. SEYE ADENIYI who battled to keep pace with all the strange developments reports. He also presents a one-week dairy of events.
TOSIN OMOJOLA provides additional information…
Palpable fear has gripped the management of Adeoyo State Hospital, Yemetu, Ibadan, and rescued victims from the ‘evil forest’ of Soka Community, Ibadan. The fear is not unconnected with the problem of insecurity in the hospital environ. The authorities in the hospital fear for their lives, and for the safety of the kidnapped victims who are at present receiving medical treatment at the Casualty Ward of the hospital
When WESTERN POST visited the hospital on Friday afternoon to ascertain the level of medical care being given to the victims and gauge the response of the victims to treatment, it was learnt that though the victims are responding well and fast to treatment, however, some of them are yet to regain mental alertness and memory to properly narrate their ordeals in the kidnappers’ den.
Our correspondent also learnt from some of the medical personnel on duty, especially those saddled with the responsibility of caring for the rescued victims, but who pleaded not to be mentioned, that the lives and safety of the victims could no longer be guaranteed.
A senior Nursing Sister told WESTERN POST that the way and manner members of the public were trooping to the hospital on daily basis to catch a glimpse of the rescued victims had posed a major challenge to all the medical personnel in the hospital.
She also explained that families of the victims as well as those looking for their missing family members were coming to the hospital almost every hour, adding that there is no security control measure put in place to guarantee those who should be allowed to enter the ward to see the victims.
“We are no longer safe in this hospital, likewise the rescued victims. Many people are just coming everyday to look at them. We are not against this, but the problem is that we observed that some people are now planning on how to take their relatives out of hospital. We overheard the conversation of some boys on Thursday evening, planning how to launch an attack on the staff in order to kidnap the victims again. We suspect these people could be agents of the kidnappers at Soka,” a nurse told WESTERN POST.
A doctor who preferred anonymity said the security of the hospital and the safety of the victims may soon be compromised if urgent tight security arrangement was not put in place. “We can’t control the crowd coming to the hospital again. We don’t even know who is who again. You need to see the crowd coming to this hospital at night. It is like Mecca; what are they coming to do at night? Therefore we want the state government to provide tight security for us, because we and the victims are no longer safe,” he said.
However, efforts made by our correspondent to speak with the Chief Consultant to the Hospital, Dr. J. O. Osamor, proved abortive. But a senior management staff of the hospital, who spoke with WESTERN POST, complained about the security and safety of the victims. He said the police were not even helping matters, as they are also responsible for the palpable fear that now pervade the hospital environment.
He said the police were in the habit of bringing armed robbery suspect with bullet and other wounds to the hospital. “They would just drop the robbers without waiting for proper documentation of admission of patients in the hospital. In fact, they often bring them at night and when we ask them to do the right thing, the police would threaten the staff on duty with gun. That is what we have been experiencing since the discovery of the kidnappers’ den at Soka, in Ibadan. We don’t even know the difference between kidnapped victims, lunatics and armed robbers again. With this shoddy arrangement, the escaped colleagues of the arrested robbers may launch attack on the hospital to free their colleagues,” he stated.
Relations of Victims Keep Vigil
Relations of recued victims continue to keep vigil at the hospital. Those still looking for their missing family members, however, wear a mournful look. The condition of the rescued victims is becoming stable. One of the medical doctors in charge of the victims said none of them is suffering from chronic disease or life-threatening ailment.
Meanwhile, the den continued to attract a big crowd who are anxious and eager to enter the forest and pull down all the abandoned structures within the compound in order to unravel other mysteries and set free other captives. But stern-looking and battle-ready mobile policemenprevented them from entering the compound again. Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) has also been stationed at the entrance of the forest in order to maintain law and order, while other security agents are also keeping watch on the forest of evil.
Lamentation of Victims
Several people whose family members are missing have continued to keep vigil at the kidnappers’ den at Soka area since last week Saturday believing they mag just sight them at the place. For example, the family of one Pa Oguntunde, a 95-years-old man who was said to have been missing since 2013 is one of the people keeping their hopes of finding him alive.
Also, eight victims rescued from the jaw of death from the kidnappers’ den were taken to Adeoyo State Hospital, Ring Road, Ibadan, where they are currently receiving medical treatment to regain fitness and mental alertness.
The severely malnourished rescued victims are presently responding to treatment in the hospital. Information given to WESTERN POST by one of the medicals officers attending to the victims in the hospital was that “they are gradually regaining their weights, although they looked like skeleton when they were brought in.
“We intensified our care and treatment of them and I think they are better now although they are yet to regain their full memory and consciousness to the level of relaying their experiences when they were in the den”.
But some of the victims glimpsed by WESTERN POST appeared to be recuperating. Though the hospital authorities did not allow their pictures to be taken on the hospital bed, their responses, however, were encouraging.
One of the victims named Wale Atoyebi said he is a native of Ada in Osun State and that he was kidnapped on his way to Ibadan. “That’s all I could remember for now,” he said.
Another victim, Titi Dokpesi, said she was kidnapped in front of her house in Oke-Bola area of Ibadan. She said she is 45 years old, though she now looks far older than her age. She said she is not an insane person. “I m not mad; they just kidnapped me in front of my house and that day, I was having N10, 000 with me. They told me we were going to the police station when they arrested me, but I still don’t know how we got to the forest that day. We spent a few months there and they only gave us food once in a week.”
Who Owns Soka Land?
The kidnappers’ den is said to belong to a giant construction company, Costain West African Limited. Investigations by WESTERN POST on the actual owner of the large expense of land with many abandoned buildings inside it revealed that the place used to be the construction site of the giant construction company, Costain. The land was later given to Ponti Construction Company. However, the large compound is no longer in use by the company for reasons best known to the company.
A former worker of the construction company who pleaded not to be mentioned said the company had abandoned the site for over ten years now. “You can see that the place has been overgrown by weeds and bushes and has eventually become a fearful or dreaded thick forest. Nobody in the neighbourhood can even dare entering the place on his own,” he stated
When the Chairman, Caretaker Committee of Oluyole Local Government, Ibadan, Hon. Abass Aleshinloye, was asked to comment on the strange discovery in Soka community and why the place was left unattended to, to the extent that it became kidnappers’ den, he said though the area is under his council and other councils’ jurisdiction, they cannot just move into anybody’s land or property, since the area in question was assigned to a company.
Aleshinloye said it was true the area had been abandoned for years but the company still has their property on the land.
General Manager, Ibadan Local Government Properties Company Limited, Mr. Olalekan Babalola, said the area had a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O). But the state government has now revoked the land.
It all happened on the afternoon of Saturday, March 22, 2014, Soka, a popular area along Lagos-Ibadan highway in Ibadan, was turned into a Mecca of sort when hundreds of Ibadan residents and travelers besieged an abandoned property at Idi-Mangoro area of Soka where some people believed to have been kidnapped by ritualists were kept.
The victims were seen bound in chains apparently in readiness to be used for rituals by traffickers in human parts. About six guns, cutlasses, knives, clubs, and some bullets were also found in the kidnappers den, which some media organisations have tagged ‘Forest of Horror, Forest of Evil,’ etc.
No matter the name given to the den, one thing that is clear is that the grisly discovery in Soka community has popularised the area. But apart from those trying to catch a glimpse of the place others notably residents of Ibadan and travellers who normally pass through the area going to or coming from Lagos now dread Soka.
Apart from the fifteen people met in chains inside the kidnappers’ den, some other strange and frightening discoveries were also unearthed at the forest. Several malnourished people were found inside the compound wandering around. There were rotten bodies and human skeletons numbering about 20 with human skulls littering everywhere. On entering the abandoned building,WESTERN POST met some inmates who could not even talk. One of them who attracted the attention of both the police and other rescuers was a man looking like a skeleton and in the throes of death. His mouth was opened, while his tongue was outside with flies hovering around his mouth, nose and eyes. He was in serious pains and groaning. There were several human bones inside a shallow grave in front of the eight-room building with many shoes, bags, clothes and other accessories found in two containers placed beside the building.
Also discovered were some bags called Ghana-Must-Go bags believed to belong to some travellers believed to have been kidnapped while mobile numbers 08140574774 and 07038651723 with the name ‘Friba’ and another mobile number 08061197191 with the name ‘Koko Aram’ were written on the wall inside the expansive building.
Not only that, some identity cards with names likes Mr. Rafiu Alamu, a petroleum tanker driver, and National ID card and First Bank Automated Teller Machine (ATM) card belonging to one Mrs. Janet Motunrayo Lemo were also recovered from the scene. Also in the bush is an abandoned factory, which the ritualists used as slaughters lab.
Although WESTERN POST did not particularly glimpse this when our correspondents visited the scene, but some angry youths and curious residents who besieged the forest claimed they saw a live crocodile inside the building. They also claimed they killed a cattle they found inside the compound believed to belong to Fulani herdsmen who often keep their cattle in the forest for grazing. Some Fulani herdsmen met found inside the forest were also beaten to pulp by the irate youths.
How Kidnappers Met Their Waterloo
WESTERN POST reliably learnt that the kidnappers’ den was uncovered when some people, commercial motorcycle riders, aka Okada riders, were looking for their missing member named Lanre Adeku. During the search, the search party stumbled on the abandoned building inside Soka community. Initially, they were scared of entering the thick bush, but some of them summoned the courage. In the process, they heard strange voices believed to be those of some kidnapped victims. This encouraged them to intensify the search, which led to other strange discoveries.
Another account of the discovery story has it that a commercial motorcycle operator was hired by a man to take him to the bush at Soka Community and on getting there, the Okada rider was amazed at the thickness of the bush inside the large expanse of land and became suspicious, especially when he heard the voices of some people pleading that they be set free. As the tale goes, the okada rider later raised the alarm, which attracted the attention of passersby and residents in the neighbourhood. WESTERN POST also gathered that the motorcycle of the missing okada operator was later found inside Ogunpa river that links Soka river.
However, up till now, the missing motorcycle operator has not been seen or found, though he was said to have made several calls to his friends and relations that he was kidnapped, trapped and kept inside a tunnel inside in the forest. Every effort to locate and rescue him is yet to materialise.
Cutlass-wielding youths and angry residents of Soka community in Ibadan on Sunday morning besieged the kidnappers’ den to free those still trapped in a hidden tunnel believed to be inside the ‘evil forest’.
According to some of the irate youths who spoke with WESTERN POST, a phone call they received from one of their kidnapped relatives on Saturday evening ignited their anger. The captives were said to be missing for the past seven days but were making distress calls to their relations to help them so they are not killed by the kidnappers.
One of the siblings of the captives who spoke with WESTERN POST said her brother told them on the phone that he and other captives were still within the Soka area and he urged them to intensify their search efforts to liberate him and other captives from untold suffering and imminent death.